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    Firbolg in the Playground
     
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    Default What's One "Old Game" Mechanic That You Don't Miss?

    You know, there's a lot of good things in classic video games, but just as much bad. What's one thing you don't miss from classic games?

    For me, it's RNG in RPG skill checks. Lots of older games drew their roots from pen-and-paper roleplaying games; as such, it was basically standard practice for skill checks to be a matter of the game rolling dice behind the scenes.

    The problem is that there are certain assumptions in play around a table that don't hold true in a computer game, namely that skill checks are usually something that only happen once per instance. You either disarm the trap, or it goes off in your face. You either know a relevant fact, or you don't. In a CRPG, that assumption goes out the window. If you like, you can sit there, lockpicking the same door for as long as you want. What's more, in a game that has unlimited saves, you can save immediately before a difficult skill check, and simply reload the save until the dice roll in your favor.

    Note that I'm not necessarily against RNG in video games. It's only in skill checks that I get a bit tetchy; I'd much rather know either that I will or will not make a check.
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    Default Re: What's One "Old Game" Mechanic That You Don't Miss?

    Designated save points, hands down.

    Been making my way through each of the Yakuza games in chronological order, and having to go back to finding a phone booth to save whenever I want to stop playing since starting the Yakuza 3 remaster the other day has been annoying. Yakuza 0 had it (with a way to "cheat" in a save anywhere functionality), but Yakuza Kiwami and Kiwami 2 (the full on remakes in an entirely new engine of the first 2 games) let you save from the menus any time, and I don't feel like the games lost anything for it.

    It's even worse when you're playing a game where save points aren't on almost literally every street corner.

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    Default Re: What's One "Old Game" Mechanic That You Don't Miss?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rynjin View Post
    Designated save points, hands down.
    On the flipside, I like those in jRPGs because they tend to increase tension when you're pushing the envelope on some of the tougher environments (like delving into a dungeon) and tend to make you calculate whether it's worth it to toss out consumable resources. It can pump adrenaline a bit to be just a few paces from the save point while bleeding out and then getting another encounter.

    Uhhh, I wanted to say games with cryptic or excessive micromanagement that didn't really add to complexity, but now that I think of it this is only a thing in Civ titles older than 4 because, for example, original Master of Orion is still a great 4X and it has remarkably little on the micromanagement front, so it's not really a jab against classic games in general.
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    Troll in the Playground
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    Default Re: What's One "Old Game" Mechanic That You Don't Miss?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rynjin View Post
    Designated save points, hands down.
    Back in the days of the Gameboy brick, where you didn't get warning when your battery was dying, I wished MORE games ON HANDHELD had designated save points. Plenty of times in the Pokémon Red days, I'd run out of power and realize my last save was hours back.

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    Default Re: What's One "Old Game" Mechanic That You Don't Miss?

    Totally agree on the "designated save points" thing--I like to be able to save whenever and wherever I like. The way to fix the problem of not having saved is to have an auto-save system, not to have fixed and limited save locations. I don't have a problem with the RNG in RPG skill checks, though, because to my mind the entire point of the genre is to have what I can do be determined by my in-game character, not my own gaming skills. (e.g. in Skyrim you pretty much never need to put a point into lockpicking so long as you're reasonably adept at the lockpicking mini-game).

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    Default Re: What's One "Old Game" Mechanic That You Don't Miss?

    Life systems. Let that stay in the arcades were it belongs.

    EDIT: I mean 1-ups and their ilk.
    Last edited by PraetorDragoon; 2019-11-05 at 10:40 AM.
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    Default Re: What's One "Old Game" Mechanic That You Don't Miss?

    Limited saves have their place, I'd argue, but it's only certain genres that really benefit from them. They add tension in games like Souls-likes and Rogue-likes, when you're down to half-health with no more estus flasks, but the knowledge that there's probably a bonfire just around the corner, if you can manage to make it there. Paired with how using a bonfire also respawns all the enemies, that's an example of limited saves done right.

    For an example of limited saves done wrong, look at Supernova mode in Outer Worlds. You can only save when you sleep, you can only sleep inside your spaceship, and you can't fast travel to or from your spaceship. That means that even if you're inside a hotel, renting a room, you can't save unless you schlep back to your ship to use the bed there.
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    Default Re: What's One "Old Game" Mechanic That You Don't Miss?

    This is more a mechanic that didn't exist back in the day, but I'm really happy that modern RPGs have embraced the "respec." I hate getting a fair ways into a game only to figure out that whatever stats, skills, or abilities I allocated points to while leveling are suboptimal - or worse, make it so that the game is almost impossible to complete, and leave me with no way to do anything about it except cheat or start over from scratch. Even if it's expensive, limited or time-consuming to pull off, I find respeccing to be mandatory to RPGs with any depth, and lack of a respec system in a game where you have to allocate limited points is a dealbreaker for me even if I can find all your optimal builds online somewhere.

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    Default Re: What's One "Old Game" Mechanic That You Don't Miss?

    I'm also going to go with checkpoints/designated save points. If I haven't played the game before, I won't really know how long any particular stretch between save points takes and if I misjudge how much time it takes to get to the next save point I might have to drop the game and go do something else before I get there. Beyond that, re-clearing an area I've already mostly gone through just because there's one last encounter that I didn't beat the first time through is not something that I consider to be particularly enjoyable - sure, if the game's combat system is enjoyable then it might be fun to decide not to progress and instead just fight a bunch of stuff repeatedly for a while, but I'd much rather that be up to me than down to the game designer's decision that if you don't reach Y after hitting X then you have to do everything between X and Y again.

    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    I don't have a problem with the RNG in RPG skill checks, though, because to my mind the entire point of the genre is to have what I can do be determined by my in-game character, not my own gaming skills. (e.g. in Skyrim you pretty much never need to put a point into lockpicking so long as you're reasonably adept at the lockpicking mini-game).
    if(skill > x) pass, else fail is an RNG-free skill check mechanic that's completely independent of player (as opposed to character) skill.

    Passingly related to the example you brought up, minigames in general are something that I wish I could say were an "old game" mechanic that I don't miss. Some of them can be fun, but, really, if I wanted to play a racing game I'd go play a racing game and not, say, KotOR.

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    Default Re: What's One "Old Game" Mechanic That You Don't Miss?

    I won't miss when games didn't signpost a point of no return. An infamous example being Riovanes Castle in Final Fantasy Tactics, three battles in a row, all of them relatively difficult, the last of them being an escort mission...if your only save is one of the ones you make between battles when prompted, and you can't win, have fun starting your game over.
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    Default Re: What's One "Old Game" Mechanic That You Don't Miss?

    Quote Originally Posted by Rakaydos View Post
    Back in the days of the Gameboy brick, where you didn't get warning when your battery was dying, I wished MORE games ON HANDHELD had designated save points. Plenty of times in the Pokémon Red days, I'd run out of power and realize my last save was hours back.
    I'm not sure how a stationary save point would have helped. In games where you can save anywhere, the solution to running out of power is to just save more often. "Save early, save often" is a creed for a reason.

    When you can only save in certain places, you can just get ****ed. Only have 5 minutes of battery left but the nearest save point is a 10 minute walk? Too bad for you.

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    Default Re: What's One "Old Game" Mechanic That You Don't Miss?

    For JRPGs specifically - and mostly FF - the 9999 number limit. It makes the mechanics nearing the end of the game increasingly less interesting.

    The second is related to FF as well as it's particularly found in old JRPGs, but poorly translated or just plain uncommunicative games where the next objective to moving the game along is opaque to say the least. Like where you have to talk with some specific NPCs in the world, in a specific order, with a specific item. It's one thing to have objectives be something the player has to puzzle out, and another to maybe give a vague sentence suggesting what you ought to do that got muddled even more through the localization.

    One recent-ish example I went through was in Pokemon Red. To get through a checkpoint and continue the game you need to pass a guard blocking it, who, if prompted, will say he's thirsty. Which might be a pretty clear clue if, for example, there was a specific place to buy beverages in the game world or you could win something beverage-related at an arranged battle somewhere... something like that. However, you get bottled water, lemonade, and soda as regular items throughout the game to give to Pokemon that you can buy from a dozen vending machines. The game could've done something to specify which drink the guard wanted so you got the clue, but the only indication that the beverages in your inventory don't work is that you cannot pass. Of course, what it comes down to is you need a specific key item, tea, to pass through.

    Usually these are more along the lines of "you need to visit every village/town/city on the map and talk to every available NPC and hope maybe something will happen" kinds of flags though.
    Last edited by Kitten Champion; 2019-11-05 at 02:35 PM.

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    Librarian in the Playground Moderator
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    Default Re: What's One "Old Game" Mechanic That You Don't Miss?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kitten Champion View Post
    For JRPGs specifically - and mostly FF - the 9999 number limit. It makes the mechanics nearing the end of the game increasingly less interesting.

    The second is related to FF as well as it's particularly found in old JRPGs, but poorly translated or just plain uncommunicative games where the next objective to moving the game along is opaque to say the least. Like where you have to talk with some specific NPCs in the world, in a specific order, with a specific item. It's one thing to have objectives be something the player has to puzzle out, and another to maybe give a vague sentence suggesting what you ought to do that got muddled even more through the localization.

    One recent-ish example I went through was in Pokemon Red. To get through a checkpoint and continue the game you need to pass a guard blocking it, who, if prompted, will say he's thirsty. Which might be a pretty clear clue if, for example, there was a specific place to buy beverages in the game world or you could win something beverage-related at an arranged battle somewhere... something like that. However, you get bottled water, lemonade, and soda as regular items throughout the game to give to Pokemon that you can buy from a dozen vending machines. The game could've done something to specify which drink the guard wanted so you got the clue, but the only indication that the beverages in your inventory don't work is that you cannot pass. Of course, what it comes down to is you need a specific key item, tea, to pass through.

    Usually these are more along the lines of "you need to visit every village/town/city on the map and talk to every available NPC and hope maybe something will happen" kinds of flags though.
    Or even just someone AT the local store who would comment "Franz, the guard at the gate, really likes tea."
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    Default Re: What's One "Old Game" Mechanic That You Don't Miss?

    Quote Originally Posted by factotum View Post
    I don't have a problem with the RNG in RPG skill checks, though, because to my mind the entire point of the genre is to have what I can do be determined by my in-game character, not my own gaming skills. (e.g. in Skyrim you pretty much never need to put a point into lockpicking so long as you're reasonably adept at the lockpicking mini-game).
    Oh, I totally agree with having character skills be more important than player skills. My issue is with the RNG side of things. I'm thinking specifically of playing Fallout, Fallout 2, and Morrowind, where you had things like lockpicking that amounted to nothing more than hitting the lockpick skill key or poking a chest with a lockpick until the game decided your character had succeeded.

    I'd much prefer an RNG- and minigame-less system, like that used in Outer Worlds: if your character has 60 skill in lockpicking, they can open any lock that has a requirement of 60 or less, automatically, with no minigame. That way, I don't have to bother with a minigame, savescumming doesn't change the outcome of skill checks, and I can reliably predict and prepare for what my character can do.
    Last edited by Balmas; 2019-11-05 at 04:44 PM.
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    Default Re: What's One "Old Game" Mechanic That You Don't Miss?

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Hall View Post
    Or even just someone AT the local store who would comment "Franz, the guard at the gate, really likes tea."
    I think an easiest solution would've been just to make him say he's hungry rather than thirsty, then make the key item a rice ball jelly filled doughnut or something. It's literally the same amount of effort involved.

    While they have three beverage items in the game there's nothing in terms of food, so you'd know you'd need to look for something.

    Still, in general it's not exactly rare for me to feel like I need to look up a GameFAQ to get through an older JRPG at some point. Not that JRPGs have a premium on poorly explained game flags, I've just played them more.

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    Default Re: What's One "Old Game" Mechanic That You Don't Miss?

    In fps, having a limited number of saves per level. It's just an artificial way to increase difficulty and make the game feel longer by playing the same sections over and over again.
    It gets worse in games where bad programming gave the AI unfair advantages, like seeing through items that are transparent to bullets. It means that they have concealment, and you don't.

    I agree with save locations, because it doesn't account for black-outs or crashes, or simply someone else needing the computer. Alien: Isolation used them as a way to let you free-range without making your save unusable if you e.g. saved while about to be killed, but it ended up substituting in-character fear with the player's worry of wasting 20 minutes if he was killed before he could save, which I think is bad.
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    Default Re: What's One "Old Game" Mechanic That You Don't Miss?

    Quote Originally Posted by Balmas View Post
    Oh, I totally agree with having character skills be more important than player skills. My issue is with the RNG side of things. I'm thinking specifically of playing Fallout, Fallout 2, and Morrowind, where you had things like lockpicking that amounted to nothing more than hitting the lockpick skill key or poking a chest with a lockpick until the game decided your character had succeeded.

    I'd much prefer an RNG- and minigame-less system, like that used in Outer Worlds: if your character has 60 skill in lockpicking, they can open any lock that has a requirement of 60 or less, automatically, with no minigame. That way, I don't have to bother with a minigame, savescumming doesn't change the outcome of skill checks, and I can reliably predict and prepare for what my character can do.
    I kind of feel the opposite. I loved Bioshock's hacking system, I find the "did you spec for this if no go away" approach irritating.

    That said, hilariously empty town/farm syndrome. Lots of old games had "towns" of 5-10 people that lived on no visible agriculture and had monsters just outside the town limits (which was usually like a small gate.) That isn't a town, or even a thorpe. It is a bus stop.
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    Default Re: What's One "Old Game" Mechanic That You Don't Miss?

    I don't know if it still exists, but pc games that don't account for a mouse, if it would allow a noticeable improvement. Like gta2 when compared to Crimsonland.
    Quote Originally Posted by J.R.R. Tolkien, 1955
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    Default Re: What's One "Old Game" Mechanic That You Don't Miss?

    Quote Originally Posted by Tvtyrant View Post
    That said, hilariously empty town/farm syndrome. Lots of old games had "towns" of 5-10 people that lived on no visible agriculture and had monsters just outside the town limits (which was usually like a small gate.) That isn't a town, or even a thorpe. It is a bus stop.
    I'm a bit on the fence about that one, because unless it has some mechanical purpose within the game it's just set dressing, and I'm of the opinion that set dressing is something that it's often better to have too little of than too much. It looks pretty, but it has no real substance, uses up resources, and can get in the way if there's too much of it.

    I don't know if it still exists, but pc games that don't account for a mouse, if it would allow a noticeable improvement. Like gta2 when compared to Crimsonland.
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    Last edited by Aeson; 2019-11-06 at 12:17 AM.

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    Default Re: What's One "Old Game" Mechanic That You Don't Miss?

    *Limited number of lives
    *Save game limitations (only at certain places, etc)
    *Limited number of save game slots
    *Pixelhunting
    *Intrusive DRM that made you copy a passage from the instruction manual in order to start the game
    *Intrusive DRM that required you to have the cd or disk inserted in order to start the game
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    Quote Originally Posted by Balmas View Post
    Limited saves have their place, I'd argue, but it's only certain genres that really benefit from them. They add tension in games like Souls-likes and Rogue-likes,
    Strongly disagree. It's as intolerably annoying in rogue-likes as it is anywhere else and its only in the genre because games in the era of the original Rogue couldn't handle proper saving

    Quote Originally Posted by Vinyadan View Post
    In fps, having a limited number of saves per level. It's just an artificial way to increase difficulty and make the game feel longer by playing the same sections over and over again.
    Are you implying that there are situations outside in other genres where having a limited number of saves per level IS NOY just an artificial way to increase difficulty and make the game feel longer by playing the same sections over and over again?!? Because my impression is that is its purpose regardless of genre.
    Last edited by Bohandas; 2019-11-06 at 02:28 AM.
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    Default Re: What's One "Old Game" Mechanic That You Don't Miss?

    Quote Originally Posted by Balmas View Post
    Oh, I totally agree with having character skills be more important than player skills. My issue is with the RNG side of things. I'm thinking specifically of playing Fallout, Fallout 2, and Morrowind, where you had things like lockpicking that amounted to nothing more than hitting the lockpick skill key or poking a chest with a lockpick until the game decided your character had succeeded.
    Sorry, misunderstood what you meant! Although the d20 system for D&D (which was introduced in 2000, so before Morrowind at least) knew this was an issue, which is why it introduced the concept of "Taking 10" and "Taking 20" for skill checks where you weren't under any time pressure to avoid you just rerolling the dice until you succeeded. (Note: you can't Take 20 in a case where failing the check has a negative consequence, for obvious reasons).

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    Default Re: What's One "Old Game" Mechanic That You Don't Miss?

    I think many of these aren't issues that are gone yet, at least not consistently.
    Limited save slots were very much a limitation of the hardware, rather than a design choice, I'm not sad to see it go.

    But I really don't like binary pass/fail skill checks in RPGs, that is more and more common in newer games and I 100% prefer the old design of a chance of failure or success no matter what your skill level is at. Although that doesn't mean they always got it right, finding the right increase/drop off of chance vs skill and relative availability of skill points can be hard to get right.

    I actually think overall I miss more "old school" designs than I can remember that was bad. But I'm sure if I went back and played some more they would jump out. What does come to mind is poor tracking and quest information. Like not having a copy of quest chat text or log of the important bits, so when you go back to some game you haven't played in a while and the quest name tells you nothing of what you actually need to know. I know the quest trackers are contentious too, but game developers are just too close to the game to write good directions of where you need to go, and a description that probably makes perfect sense to them doesn't mean anything to the player until after they've already found it. Wandering around a map for half an hour to try to figure out some vague hint of what needs to be done is not an engaging experience.

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    Default Re: What's One "Old Game" Mechanic That You Don't Miss?

    Health packs. I'm quite glad most modern games have health regeneration. Of course, health packs can add to the strategy of the game. Halo: Combat Evolved is considered the first game to introduce "health regeneration" mechanic (which was actually energy shields recharging) but it also had health packs and you could strategically backtrack while playing on Legendary difficulty. It balanced out. But over all it can get quite annoying in an old game, where you reach some sort of a boss fight and you have only few HP points left after you fought your way there and no health packs around. Then your final battle comes down to mere luck.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    Intrusive DRM that made you copy a passage from the instruction manual in order to start the game
    This was easy-mode. Fire up the game and you're done.
    The worst version of this was during gameplay. You would reach a point in the game where the answer to an in-game puzzle is found in the manual, and you can't progress unless you input it.
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    Default Re: What's One "Old Game" Mechanic That You Don't Miss?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kitten Champion View Post
    I think an easiest solution would've been just to make him say he's hungry rather than thirsty, then make the key item a rice ball jelly filled doughnut or something. It's literally the same amount of effort involved.

    While they have three beverage items in the game there's nothing in terms of food, so you'd know you'd need to look for something.
    The tea item is only in FireRed and LeafGreen, the remakes. In Red/Blue/Green/Yellow, it was indeed a standard drink from the top of Celadon City Dept. Store. The programmers did not want you to be softlocked so they introduced a granny giving out tea for free (since the drinks cost money, and you can very well be out of cash when you spend irresponsibly and wipe out once or twice, loosing half your money in the process).

    And honestly, this is fine that it is a bit hidden away to me. Of course I can see how it is frustrating because there is no big indicator that you CAN go in the backside of the living quarters in Celadon to find Granny. But in the spirit of the predecessor games it should be a beverage. Maybe just the generic hint of: "I heard grandma Milly made a great tea. She lives back in Celadon next to the department store. I hope she does not fall when she has to enter on the alley on the backside though."

    That being said, "bring standard item x to NPC y" can go die in a fire. I am not your drinking dispenser nor does it make ANY sense for a police man to lift a city lockdown for a damn cup of tea. If you were like: "I got the ghost of cubone's mother captured and RIGHT here, I am qualified to take on Team Rocket" then it would make sense. Fetch and collect 8 bear asses quests will be the end of me.
    Last edited by Spore; 2019-11-06 at 05:36 AM.

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    Default Re: What's One "Old Game" Mechanic That You Don't Miss?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    *Intrusive DRM that made you copy a passage from the instruction manual in order to start the game
    *Intrusive DRM that required you to have the cd or disk inserted in order to start the game
    These days I'd almost prefer this to the always-on internet requirements, or the DRM Software that can damage your system.
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    Default Re: What's One "Old Game" Mechanic That You Don't Miss?

    Quote Originally Posted by Erloas View Post
    What does come to mind is poor tracking and quest information. Like not having a copy of quest chat text or log of the important bits, so when you go back to some game you haven't played in a while and the quest name tells you nothing of what you actually need to know. I know the quest trackers are contentious too, but game developers are just too close to the game to write good directions of where you need to go, and a description that probably makes perfect sense to them doesn't mean anything to the player until after they've already found it. Wandering around a map for half an hour to try to figure out some vague hint of what needs to be done is not an engaging experience.
    There's a happy medium to be had there. Having an exact location for every quest (a la Skyrim) is a bit silly and immersion breaking, IMHO. Witcher 3 had a better option whereby quests would usually guide you to a general area and you'd then have to search round that to find the specific doodad. Outer Worlds also does it pretty well--you still get the exact pinpoint quest marker, but it only appears if you've found some specific information directing you at it.

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    Default Re: What's One "Old Game" Mechanic That You Don't Miss?

    Quote Originally Posted by Aeson View Post
    Do console ports count?
    It depends, fps meant primarily for consoles nowadays do have mouse support on PC, and they would be unusable otherwise. An Earthsiege game I tried, however, didn't use it, and I think that the experience would have been far better if it did (and I think it was primarily a PC game).

    There also are cases where this isn't true, like with Rogue Squadron, which was playable with the mouse, but better with the keyboard.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bohandas View Post
    Are you implying that there are situations outside in other genres where having a limited number of saves per level IS NOY just an artificial way to increase difficulty and make the game feel longer by playing the same sections over and over again?!? Because my impression is that is its purpose regardless of genre.
    I simply have never seen it outside fps. Call me lucky if you will!

    Also, kudos for noy, since it's an old word for annoyance.
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    Default Re: What's One "Old Game" Mechanic That You Don't Miss?

    Quote Originally Posted by Neptunas123 View Post
    Health packs. I'm quite glad most modern games have health regeneration. Of course, health packs can add to the strategy of the game. Halo: Combat Evolved is considered the first game to introduce "health regeneration" mechanic (which was actually energy shields recharging) but it also had health packs and you could strategically backtrack while playing on Legendary difficulty. It balanced out. But over all it can get quite annoying in an old game, where you reach some sort of a boss fight and you have only few HP points left after you fought your way there and no health packs around. Then your final battle comes down to mere luck.
    It doesn't come down to luck, it comes down to skill. I like games with health regen too, but they tend to make you a lot more reckless.

    Games where you have a limited amount of health and need a resource to replenish it make you think very carefully about how to engage with any given situation. It puts more pressure on you to dodge attacks, engage carefully, use cover, and efficiently take down enemies.

    I've been playing through Bloodborne for the first time recently and ended up fighting an unintended "boss rush" (I fought the Shadows of Yharnam, Darkbeast Paarl, and Rom, the Vacuous Spider in rapid succession) and am now having to make my way through the next area with no Blood Vials on me (or go back and grind which...no thanks). It makes you really cognizant of what you can do to avoid getting hit at all in this game, and given no damage runs are possible, it's very doable to get through one area with a bit of trial and error without needing to heal.

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    Default Re: What's One "Old Game" Mechanic That You Don't Miss?

    Probably something few people have dealt with: Games with two timers.

    This was the late 80s, early 90s. In the local arcade (Yong-san Base Youth Services) there was a Nintendo coin-op machine. Put in your money, and you could play Nintendo games. But, a lot of those games had a timer, and the cabinet itself had a timer, so if you weren't paying attention to one of them, you could run out of time two different places.
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